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Thread: The US, Saudi Arabia and Ba'athism

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    The US, Saudi Arabia and Ba'athism

    Taken from the France thread

    Quote Originally Posted by cataphract View Post
    Leftovers from Gaddafi's stash? The whole mess began when Gaddafi was deposed anyways.

    The various Ba'athist variations seemed to have been the regional bulwark against extremism, which is why I don't understand why the US is providing and facilitating support for the FSA on one hand - something that is known to have Al'Qaeda and other radical operatives within it (here) - and on the other continuing with drone strikes against the same militants (in different countries). Is a "democratic" Syria of more importance than shutting down movements like Al-Qaeda and preventing them from gaining influence within Middle-Eastern society?

    Isn't a known Assad/Syrian Ba'athist Government favourable to unknown revolutionaries?

    Assad, Saddam and the like prevented penetration and entry for radically inspired movements into the political and public sphere, and seemed to keep the lid on ethnic and religious tensions.

    I also am at a loss to explain why the US is supporting,defending and selling arms to the Saudis, under whose watch Wahabbi ideology proliferates and funding that flows to various Wahabbi/Deobandi/Salafi movements - post 9/11 hasn't the main goal of American foreign policy in the Middle East been preventing the rise and growth of such organizations, and doesn't the support/alliance with the Saudis run contrary to this aim?

    What is in your average Iraqi/Syrian/etc interest may not be what is in the interest for the West, that is acknowledged, but how are current U.S actions accomplishing aforementioned goals of stamping out radical fundamentalism?

    Hindsight is 20/20, yes, but hasn't anything been learned from the Iraq war and its consequences, and then applied to the whole Arab Spring situation? (namely, why help erode existing stable institutions that keep a lid on extremism in place of more volatile systems)
    Last edited by Bridgeburner_; 13 Jan 13, at 23:21.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bridgeburner_ View Post
    Taken from the France thread




    The various Ba'athist variations seemed to have been the regional bulwark against extremism, which is why I don't understand why the US is providing and facilitating support for the FSA on one hand - something that is known to have Al'Qaeda and other radical operatives within it (here) - and on the other continuing with drone strikes against the same militants (in different countries). Is a "democratic" Syria of more importance than shutting down movements like Al-Qaeda and preventing them from gaining influence within Middle-Eastern society?

    Isn't a known Assad/Syrian Ba'athist Government favourable to unknown revolutionaries?

    Assad, Saddam and the like prevented penetration and entry for radically inspired movements into the political and public sphere, and seemed to keep the lid on ethnic and religious tensions.

    I also am at a loss to explain why the US is supporting,defending and selling arms to the Saudis, under whose watch Wahabbi ideology proliferates and funding that flows to various Wahabbi/Deobandi/Salafi movements - post 9/11 hasn't the main goal of American foreign policy in the Middle East been preventing the rise and growth of such organizations, and doesn't the support/alliance with the Saudis run contrary to this aim?

    What is in your average Iraqi/Syrian/etc interest may not be what is in the interest for the West, that is acknowledged, but how are current U.S actions accomplishing aforementioned goals of stamping out radical fundamentalism?

    Hindsight is 20/20, yes, but hasn't anything been learned from the Iraq war and its consequences, and then applied to the whole Arab Spring situation? (namely, why help erode existing stable institutions that keep a lid on extremism in place of more volatile systems)
    For starters, Gaddafi was not a Baathist, he was a Gaddafi-ist (read batshit insane), but I understand where you are going with this. I guess the US allied itself with Saudi during the Cold War, against the Baathist/Arab nationalist regimes that were allied with the Soviet Union. Now, post-Cold War, the US is stuck with the alliance in the sense that it needs the Saudis as much as the Saudis need them. Additionally, Assad has aligned himself against the US in Iraq, against the Saudis as well as against Israel. So he needs to go.

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    Bridgeburner Reply

    "The various Ba'athist variations seemed to have been the regional bulwark against extremism..."

    Would Ba'athism fit within your definition, then, of reasonable and moderate?

    These observations appear simplistic. You fail to account for Assad's preparedness (even eagerness) to funnel jihadist recruits from Syria into Iraq and his close affiliation with shia POG (Party Of God) in Lebanon. You ignore American cooperation with the Hashemite kingdom. You also fail to acknowledge the role NATO Turkey plays in this struggle while ascribing all U.S. efforts in concert with KSA.

    Unless you can authoritatively connect U.S. efforts to A.Q. affiliated-jihadis within Syria you seem to be fishing for a relationship.
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    Quote Originally Posted by S2 View Post
    Would Ba'athism fit within your definition, then, of reasonable and moderate?
    That was never my claim, the claim was that Ba'athist regimes offer stability and protection against a radicalization of Middle Eastern society. They offer a credible alternative to Islamic fundamentalism and from an Arabs perspective internecine Sunni-Shia conflicts and in Iraqs case, a country that is being pulled apart by Kurds, Iranians and Saudis, and in the process facilitating an atmosphere where extremist ideology thrives.

    My understanding of American aims is that they intend to combat the spread of extremist ideology and "havens", if so , that means they share similar interests with authoritarian secular Arab states (which also would like to see the same, out of pure self-preservation). It also seems that American ideals are at odds with institutions like the Muslim Brotherhood, which are known to argue for anti-Western perspectives and cultural influence over society.

    These observations appear simplistic. You fail to account for Assad's preparedness (even eagerness) to funnel jihadist recruits from Syria into Iraq and his close affiliation with shia POG (Party Of God) in Lebanon.
    Alawite sponsorship of Iraqi Shia(?) terrorism is from a Syrian POV preferrable to having Sunni insurgencies within their border (they had a history with the Muslim Brotherhood and its armed insurgency). It also seems that every horse has a stake in the Iraqi conflict, Syrian involvement is acknowledged yes, but it pales when compared to the last report showing Saudi involvement. The point being however that Ba'athist regimes did not allow for penetration of radical fundamentalism within their own society and actively prevented them from gaining a toehold by the very nature of their existence.

    Saudis accounted for the largest number of fighters listed on the records by far — 305, or 41 percent
    Within the scope of the wider Sunni-Shia conflict - of which Iraq seems to be a battleground, it is unreasonable to expect that Syria would not want to counteract Sunni influence in Iraq.

    What specific jihadi organizations in Iraq that Syria support are you referring to, for even in Iraq, the Maliki government has integrated former Shia insurgents like the Sadrs Mahdi army into the Government.

    The argument was that domestically at least, Ba'athist/Arab socialist authoritarian regimes prevented the spread of fundamental Islamist sympathies. There is no such guarantee for post-revolutionary society, if Egypt is any example.

    You ignore American cooperation with the Hashemite kingdom. You also fail to acknowledge the role NATO Turkey plays in this struggle while ascribing all U.S. efforts in concert with KSA.
    The focus is purely on the duplicitous behaviour of Saudi Arabia and how American actions and intentions seem to contradict the reality of the situation - whilst stamping out the brushfires in the region, they are ignoring the arsonist which is on the loose.

    Unless you can authoritatively connect U.S. efforts to A.Q. affiliated-jihadis within Syria you seem to be fishing for a relationship.
    There is no need to, because American and Jihadi aims in Syria for some strange reason coincide, and how is helping A.Q related jihadis accomplish a goal ever good thing?Even a best case scenario in Syria (say, Syrian equivalent of the M.Brotherhood) come to power, it is still anti-Israel, anti-West in ideology and spirit, and ideologically in sync with Saudi Wahabbism. In addition, the secular, Western educated liberals that campaign for minority and womens rights invariably lose power to the Islamists in a post-revolutionary society. The rebel coalition is already showing signs of fracture between Islamist and "enlightened".

    Locals complain that unlike al-Nusra, the more secular and Islamist groups that align with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are becoming increasingly corrupt. It is a complaint that al-Nusra has fueled, organizing anti-FSA protests in towns in northern Syria. The jihadist group is careful also to distribute war spoils among civilians in rebel enclaves.

    “If you manage the crossing, you can expand your influence by manipulating supplies and weapons trucked in from Turkey,” says a European diplomat, who declined to be named, as he’s not authorized to speak with the media.

    Earlier this week, the London-based Quilliam Foundation, a counterterrorism policy institute, dubbed al-Nusra now “the principal force against Assad.” Led by al-Qaeda veterans from neighboring Iraq, al-Nusra can now rely on 5,000 fighters, the Quilliam Foundation calculates.
    They have even more reason for supporting fundamentalist organizations abroad and at home, whereas before Syrian Alawites had to remain ever-vigilant against the prospect of Sunni radicalism taking hold of the majority Sunni country.
    Last edited by Bridgeburner_; 14 Jan 13, at 14:01.

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